Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

On This Ain’t the Rosedale Library Closing and the Threat to Glad Day

Share |
On This Ain’t the Rosedale Library Closing and the Threat to Glad Day

K.D. Miller, a fab TO novelist (Brown Dwarf and others), whom I started stalking right after I came to Canada and read her short story Semper Alicia in New Quarterly, shot me an e-mail plea to support independent booksellers. Here's a slightly elaborated version of what I tossed back to her:

"You know, Kathleen, after my life in bookstores and this latest bunch of on-the-road readings, I am convinced that bookstores need to be re-framed as community hubs. It is true, apparently, that they make less and less sense as businesses. They, and libraries, are where we meet at the Word. This is probably a kick in the teeth for private enterprise but why couldn't there be a communally supported, but still independent, bookstore? Why can't that enterprise be profitable?

I know that the book, the object is going nowhere. We like the smell of them, the feel of them, the texture. Stan (Bevington, Founder of Coach House) told me that he gets a special recipe of particular Quebecois trees that make the pages of my book and all of the others. The cover may age, the pages will not. When people touch the pages of The Drifts for the first time, their faces light up. It feels good. As wonderful as e-book readers are, they smell like...nothing (go ahead, sniff one). And feel artificial (it's not their fault, they are!). After my Coach House (CH) publishing experience, I know that books are going nowhere i.e. they're going to be with us for a long, long time. So what gives?

Christina, CH's out-going Managing Editor, advises that sales are very important to keeping the doors open. Along with, in Canada, governmental grants. If a publishing house/press can be supported to make the book, why shouldn't the next steps – the distribution and the gatherings, i.e. the hubs – be as well? Hubs that integrate all of the stuff we know about book buyers and book sellers: personal relationships, cocktails, good stock, professionalism and that gritty spirit. Perhaps the business model could change from a focus on book-selling to a community-hub centered around books, literature and artistic expression. We've agreed and admitted that we all want to support the book and the seller, so let's give it up to new ideas. Book sellers who embrace these changes are thriving.

I know those words are rich coming from a non-bookseller. Booksellers have been throwing it down FOEVAH just because of the love of books & lit. We aren't feeling a loss when yet another store closes for no reason. Go be happy, it's Pride! I'll be at the Proud Voices stage, event linked on the right-hand sidebar of OB's Thom Vernon Author Page.

Come hoot and holler!

GO BUY A BOOK, A MAG, A CARD at Glad Day, Another Story, Toronto Women's Bookstore or your fave indie bookseller!

P.S. My stalking skills are awful; I've never actually been in the same room with K.D! But she is interviewed here on Monday and kindly answers my emails. The interview's a doozy.

P.S.S. Christina Palassio, Coach House Out-going Managing Editor, will be interviewed here in a couple of weeks.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Thom Vernon

Thom Vernon has worked in film, television and theatre since 1989. He has been the Actors’ Gang Youth Education Program director and has worked as an arts educator at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People. The Drifts (Coach House Books) is his first novel.

Go to Thom Vernon’s Author Page